I'm a witch and a druid, a member of ADF and OBOD, trying to find a way to balance spirituality and life. I'm currently focusing on my studies with ADF (adf.org) and Cherry Hill Seminary to become a priestess.
Have you ever had the experience where a scent wafts by and you are instantly transported back to an experience that you had when you were younger? The scent of mangoes brings me back to time on the beach, eating thin-skinned mangoes and having the juice drip down my arms – it’s a time of peace and presence for me. Sweet cigar tobacoo reminds me of sitting with my Grandfather watching TV or talking.
We can use these associations in our every day lives. Sage, frankensinse, dragonsblood, myrrh – all these scents bring back the experience of sacred space. So I can use them by carrying around a bit of perfume, hydrosol or oil to smell to put me back in the sacred mindset. Are there scents that are paritcularly calming for you? Carry those around to help you keep an even keel in times of stress.
Little bits of magic that you can bring into your lives every day.
You’ll often find people describing the way they “see” energy. There are the aura photos that are supposed to show the energy around someone, and I do know some individuals who describe energy in visual terms.
Not me though. I feel it. I know that there are at least some other people who experience energy through non-visual senses, but I don’t know how many. Certainly, the common descriptives are visual. When I was first learning what it was that I was experiencing, I found it odd that I didn’t use visual cues for energy because I tend to be very visual in trance work.
I feel energy, I don’t see it. The space that the energy is in may feel dense, or light, or spiky or like it’s pushing back on me. It could feel warm or cold, dry or wet, hard or soft or springy. And sometimes it just gives me goosebumps. Over the years, I’ve learned to pay attention to these feelings and have personal translations for how to describe that energy to other people. I can “see” it if I focus now – but it’s more about being able to interpret the sensations that I’m actually getting into a visual mode (although it’s more about “energy here” than any definition of the energy by sight). I think that it’s more that I can visualize the sensations that I’m feeling rather than something that I actually see.
If you don’t see energy visually, the first step is to understand what you are sensing. Is it a smell? Or a taste? Or a touch? Or just a feeling that you have? Understand how those sensations make you feel. For example, there’s a range of temperatures of energy that feel “normal” to me, but too cold or too hot, and I know that something is wrong. Experiment, learn the sensations and come to understand them. If you have people to talk with about energy work, use the vocabulary for the sensations that you’re getting – don’t try to map it onto the visual cues yet. See how other people describe their sensations from different types of energy.
Experiment, experience, and see what you can come up with.
One of the things that I love about ADF is the variety of beliefs. In a survey that I did for a class a while ago. The survey included responses from OBOD, ADF and general Californian Pagans. One of the questions asked had individuals select one of the options for how they define their theology. 32% of the responses were either Archtypist or Humanist. That’s a lot of folks who consider themselves pagan, and mostly druids, who are not theists. While in ADF we tend to have more theists and non-theists, there is still a wide variety of beliefs.
The ADF Core Order of Ritual requires us to act as if we believe that spirits act as if they are different aspects or individuals – but it doesn’t require that we believe that.
At Pantheacon this year, we called upon the Spirit of Unity to help us remember that we are all part of the community, we’re all part of the world, we are all connected.
It’s a good thing to remember – that we don’t all need to have the same belief to come together, to support each other and to be there for each other.
Many of my photos on Instagram include the hashtag #getoutside. The reason for this is to encourage everyone who can to spend some time outside. It’s easy for us to forget our connection with the rest of life, to forget our connection with the plants and animals and the spirits of nature that exist outside of our day-to-day awareness.
Even if you live in a big city, or a small city like I do, there’s an opportunity to get outside and experience nature, to connect with life. I don’t generally spend time to go to parks, or go on hikes. We have a park with an animal rehab/rescue zoo-style area. We’re even members of the “zoo” but we go there only a couple times a year. Even there, the animals are contained and the plants are manicured.
But even in this world of manicured plants we can connect with nature. Outside of my third story window is the top of a tree, and there are little songbirds and squirrels who live in that tree. As I walk along the road, heading to the shop, I see birds and squirrels – in addition to the pets being walked. All of this helps me to connect with nature in the concrete of the city.
One or twice a week, I walk to or from work. It’s a bit over 3 miles, so it takes a chunk of my day. Still, I experience frost on the leaves, the songbirds building their nests, the struggle of the weeds in the grass, and walk through gusts of flower puffs. At the same time, I’m staying away from cars, crossing bridges and highways, and staying aware to stay alive. In this way, I connect to life.
In our hectic world of virtual connection, it’s easy to forget our connection to life. Where ever you are, take what opportunities you can to experience the outdoors. If you can’t get outside, if you can open a window and experience the outdoors that way. Look away from the screens, and SEE the world around you.
Admittedly, this is a bit of a hot button topic for me. In the Pagan world, I find a lot of people using the terms “Patron” or “Matron” to refer to a particular god or goddess that they are working closely with.
The traditional meaning of patron that I learned is an individual who is your supporter and protector. There’s a very deep level of relationship between the patron and the individual. When I’ve heard people use the word “Matron” in this context, they usually mean a female patron. There are individuals who have this depth of relationship with a god or goddess. Many of these individuals call themselves a priest or priestess of their god, but not all do.
In ADF, we often talk about finding your patron god as part of your journey, but do we really need one? Need? No.
Consider your relationships with the gods in the same light that you have relationships with people. Sometimes we have one really close friend, sometimes we have a couple of really close friends, and sometimes we have a lot of relatively close friends. And then we have all the other people with whom we have different levels of relationships. The gods and goddess are similar to that. The exact nature of the relationship is a little different in how we interact, but there is a range of relationships from super close, BFFs, to individuals who you just casually wave from across the room. What relationships you have with the gods and goddess is up to you. The amount of effort you put into the relationships may affect the closeness, but like with humans, not every relationship works out perfectly.
Work on your relationships – with whatever beings you desire – and see what happens.
Our Landlady told us that she was raising the rent – raising it further than we were comfortable paying. So we’re moving. And I really don’t like it.
This discomfort is completely aside from the effort of packing, and organizing the moving of utilities and internet, not to mention the extra expense for new security deposits and paying people to move our lovely – but heavy – furniture.
Our new place is great. It has a wonderful area for entertaining, and it’s providing me the opportunity to re-work my Craft/craft room to more accurately reflect my current interests and activities. Yes …. UGH!
I finally figured out what it is … this place doesn’t feel like “home” anymore. Half my stuff is in boxes and I can’t unpack yet, and so I can’t do what I want, when I want it. In a couple days I move. I now realize that I need to claim the new space quickly. So I have a home – even if lots of stuff is still in boxes.
In my family, we have a symbol that means that “this is home.” It’s a simple lock with hooks to hang keys. So I’ll take that item and put it in the new place first thing. Then maybe, I can have “home” again.
One morning, not that long ago, I drew Pertho for my morning divination. Pertho is a bit of a loaded rune. It’s often called the loot cup or the dice cup, and can be considered a rune of luck.
But, for me, there is so much more.
There is a side of Pertho that is about the joy of playing together, the social interaction that comes from companionship and play. It’s also a cup, and so can be used to hold water, and thus wisdom and emotions, for you. It also resembles the dice cups used in play – the idea that you roll the dice and make of it what you will. Some say that this ties it to the Wyrd.
Pertho is not, I believe, the final fate, it’s just what life hands to you that day. What your fate is matters a lot on what you do with what you are given. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like there’s much that you can do. The day I was let go from a job, I felt devastated. After a couple of days though, I started to chase down new jobs, and found a good one. That day, the Wyrd handed me a situation that I didn’t like or appreciate, but it was up to me to move forward. The past might be fixed, but how you deal with the situations that are in your life is what decides your future. The possibilities are not necessarily endless, but your actions are what selects which one of the potential possibilities you end up with.
I don’t usually venture into politics on this blog, but I feel that it’s a good day to do so.
Today people throughout the US are marching in the Womens’ March – standing up for their rights. There are marches in many different towns throughout the US, and in towns that don’t have organized marches, people are still getting together.
The goal of the march is a great goal – every human deserves to be respected. We, as humans, have the right to be treated equally, to be treated with respect, and given the opportunity to succeed as much as we are able. Everyone is different, everyone’s limits are different – but no one should tell you what your limits are. Your limits can only be determined by you.
From Women’s March on DC web page reflects how this March came about. It’s about the current batch of politicians and what behaviors the media and political parties seem okay with.
The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.
I hope that one day I can live to see a world where we don’t have to worry about this anymore – at least not at a national level.
If you can’t march, for whatever reason, lend your energy to those who do. I once heard Selina Fox say that for every front line protester, there was 1,000 people behind them. We can’t all be on the front. If you’re not at the front, I urge you to do what you can to support them. People can’t effectively protest without support – money, letters/calls to politicians, people bringing them food, re-tweeting, liking, commenting.
Many times, my job requires me to travel, and that means hotels. I currently do a (mostly) daily practice, and this becomes a lot more challenging when I’m in a hotel. I don’t have access to my altar, or my stash of offerings, or my space. I usually can’t light a candle or incense and am limited by the considerations of whatever space the hotel has.
I have a traveling altar that I bring with me – it’s small enough to be stored in a Korean rice bowl that has a lid. I usually put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door and leave it there for the whole time – unless I’m there for more than a week and then I’d like clean sheets and towels – so I don’t have to worry about maids disturbing my altar.
My offerings and practice change too. Instead of making physical offerings, I will usually brew a cup of tea and share it with the Kindreds. Sometimes I bring tea bags with me, and sometimes I will use the tea that is in the hotel. Because I don’t leverage the maid service, I usually end up having to buy some tea if I didn’t bring some. My choice of tea is because I’m not a fan of coffee. Feel free to use your beverage of choice!
So, I brew a cup of tea and share it between 2 cups or mugs – whatever the hotel provides. The Kindreds’ cup gets placed next to my little portable altar as I say “Hail to the Kindreds” or something similar. I take my cup and stand by the window and connect with the city or space I’m in. I try to be present in the moment, feeling the energy of the city and of the hotel. I’ll usually also say a prayer, sometimes it’s pre-scripted, but often it’s ad-hoc.
If for some reason you can’t have an altar out – you’re sharing a room with someone who wouldn’t understand, you can still spend some time in the mornings in quiet contemplation of the world around you as you enjoy your cup of tea.
So if you’re ever stuck away from home, maybe this little ritual can help you stay connected.
Over my many years as a self-identified Pagan, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of different ways of protecting ritual spaces.
While many Wiccan circles define a firm boundary to the ritual space, there are many other traditions that don’t. Even the traditions that do have the firm boundary sometimes don’t have it all the time.
So, why do you define the boundary or not? Well .. there’s a lot of “it depends.” In most cases that I’m aware of, the firm boundary is designed as much to hold IN energy as to keep negative influences out. When you’re doing focused magic or intense work, this can be very useful. However, there are other times where it’s not as important to hold the energy in .. or even preferred to allow the energy to spread out gradually. In public rituals especially, it can be very useful to have a flexible or permeable boundary. Parents feel more comfortable bringing their kids if they can quickly leave if the kids don’t want to be there, or people can go if they need to go to the bathroom. And if you’re at an outdoor festival, not having to worry about the adults or children who wander late to the ritual crossing your boundary is very useful!
In ADF, our public rituals don’t have firm boundaries. Since our public rituals are mostly devotional, this works out great. We want the natural world to interact with us during the ritual. We do, however, make sure to protect the space that we’re working in – while we want beneficial, or even neutral, outside influences, we do want to keep out the negative influences. As part of our rituals, we call upon a Gatekeeper – an other-worldly being who we call, make offerings to, and ask to protect the space. Also, many of our rituals make an explicit call to these negative influences – what we sometimes call “Outsiders” to leave us alone. Ritualists in other traditions will often do similar things for rituals where they don’t have a firm boundary. They will either call upon an other-worldly being or will take other specific actions to protect the space without requiring the firm boundary.
There is no “right” way to protect the boundary of your ritual space. The type of protection that you should use is very dependent upon your physical, magical and spiritual circumstances. Sometimes you really want that firm boundary, sometimes you really don’t .. and most of the time you’re somewhere in the middle. Think about what you’re doing, and experiment. Find what works for you.